It takes more faith to follow than to wait.
Have you ever noticed that?
Well, Ok. I digress. I don’t think it takes more faith, but it definitely takes a different kind of faith. I’m finding that obedience looks one way when you’re in a “waiting season”, and a different way when you’re in a “following season”. To be honest, I actually don’t have much experience with “following” seasons.
Let me try to explain what I’m talking about. Most of my twenties were spent waiting. I can give you a few quick examples to help clarify:
- We waited about a year on a specific job offer for my husband.
- Then another year waiting for that job offer to evolve into a full time position.
- Many years were spent waiting for the right time to buy a home. The first time we looked into it was in year one of our marriage. We bought our first home in year eight, after living in five apartments in two states.
- I spent a couple years in a very difficult job, pleading with the Lord to move me to something else.
- Four heart-breaking years were endured trying to find community after a cross-country move…
A time of waiting could be explained as a time of unfulfilled dreams or unmet desires. In all of these situations, I had to learn to be content where I was, and believe that God would bring things about in due time.
I’ve found that when you’re waiting for something – for God to move in some way or to give you a green light for something – often, obedience is trusting God’s timing and letting go of your expectations of what it should look like. It’s resting in peace, knowing that he’s working in ways that you very well might not be able to see.
It’s also having an open heart and being willing to be made more like Jesus. There’s never a shortage of things he wants to teach us (like love, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control…). He has provision ready for us every single day, regardless of the season or stage of life we’re in. We just have to both submit to him and partner with him.
But then when he’s finally moved in that big way or he’s given us the green light…?
Yup. It turns out this is new territory.
I feel like I’m back to square one. Like I said earlier, I don’t have much experience in this. All of a sudden God is on the move, and he is beckoning me to follow.
And I find myself flailing about and stumbling with every step I take. He’s leading me, but I’m tripping all over myself as if I’ve forgotten how to walk. I’m falling down and getting my hands bloody and ripping my clothes. I’m collecting bruises. I learned how to be obedient in those waiting periods by surrendering to Jesus and putting him first, but I’m having trouble applying the lessons from the past season to this new one. I know they translate and that God has given me everything I need to continue and learn, but it’s tough figuring out exactly how.
To put it bluntly, I feel like I’m being a bad follower. I feel like my faith should be stronger and I shouldn’t be so easily distracted.
After crying out of frustration to my husband and seeking his advice, he reminded me of what Paul said in Romans 7:19-25,
I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?
Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Jesus has died for me and set me free from my sin. I’ve sought forgiveness and he has given it to me. So even though I stumble, even though I fall, I can rise up and keep going because of his grace. Even though I am attacked, I am not defeated. Even though storms come, I am not overcome. If I have to war with sin, it doesn’t mean that I’m a failure and I can’t do this. Jesus has forgiven me. Not only that, but he’s ready to help me. Paul couldn’t get it right all of the time. I can’t get it right all of the time. But Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.
There are new lessons to learn in this season of following. But it turns out that the first one I need to learn is to trust in Jesus. The very same thing I had to learn in the waiting season, but with an added level of difficulty, coupled with the added bonus of his grace and the double added bonus of the history of the last sixish years.
Maybe this doesn’t look so different after all.
My first lesson in obedience is to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus.